Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No. 0021 - Traffic Strategist

Invention warning: this is a long one!

I drive roughly 22 miles to work everyday. I take Oracle all the way down to Speedway. Hit I-10 and off I go. 35 minutes later, I'm sitting in my desk. However, as some of my Tucsonian friends have also realized, multiple I-10 off and on ramps will be closed for a freeway widening project for the next 3 years. We're not talking about just one exit, we are talking about multiple of exits in which effectively cut of all access to I-10 from the city of Tucson (real smart! the person who made that decision should be sentenced to hug a cactus for a year). For as much frustrations this project stirs up, the reality is we all have to deal with it and find new ways to get to work cutting through town; this is the job for the traffic strategist!

I tried a new path yesterday morning cutting through town, it took me 1 hour, ridiculous! However this morning, I've applied some simple traffic strategies in chosing and executing my new path, I made it to work in 40 mins (25 miles - not bad for cutting through town). I'm not petitioning to be a traffic strategist but wouldn't it be nice to have a such a person to consult with? This could be a career thing by holding classes and seminars. Here is a sample of some lesson topics and strategies that you might see in the syllabus.

Choose the fewest left turns in your route:
I drove the entire 25 miles through town with only 2 left turns.

Try to drive through retirement communities:
Old people don't work so rush hours don't apply to them. There are fewer cops there too. As I was speeding through Skyline 10 mph over, people were still passing me, amazing!

Take the middle lane:
An all too common trap as the middle appears to be the most backed up, yet it is the most consistent. You might get ahead for a short while on the side lanes until you will either run into an unprotected left turner (on the left lane) or a public bus (right lane). Another great thing about the middle lane is there are suckers that would fall for these traps and leave the middle. That's is when you drive right up against the next guy and block them from coming back in (it's a cruel world out there. . sorry). I'm not saying avoid all side lanes travel, but just use it sparingly.

Choose carefully which lane to put yourself in as you come to a red light (advance coursework):
If there are multiple lanes and each has one vehicle stopped at a red light, it is common sense to not put yourself behind the dump truck but behind the Mustang. But what if there are multiple of cars? One semi truck vs. 3 soccer moms? Who would you bet on then? How about a grandpa driving a V8 Jag vs. a bunch of teenagers joyriding with their parents' van? These are all very complicated choices to make you know.

Spotting and following skillfull drivers:
There is a difference between stupid speeders and skillful fast drivers. Skillful drivers are good to follow because they do all the dirty work for you in trail blazing and pressuring all the slower cars to move aside. They often blast through a path such that you may enjoy "the fruits of their labor" by following them. They often don't care if you follow them, however it could be a difference of running a yellow or be halted by the red.

And the lesson goes on. I would totally hire a traffic strategist (at least for the next three years) as DOT officials are hugging cactuses (grrrr). But I must say, the only downfall to this new path that I'm taking is that I will be getting into work from a different access point, which means I won't get to wave my badge to this very cool old security dude at the old gate anymore. With his cool Oakley sun glasses, this 60 year old is the coolest old dude I get to meet all day.


Heidi Farnsworth said...

You should try getting on the freeway at orange grove. There are far fewer people getting on the freeway nowadays and if you're going further than 22nd it's still most convenient. Good Luck on your travels!

Noelle Lee said...

Patrick, this vaguely reminds me of my strategies in navigating through the halls at Douglas High School years ago. The benefit of being a short person in an overstuffed hallway versus being in a car during rush hour is that of the up or down direction. I always found short cuts by going under people's arms; I don't know if this has an equivalent in the car world unless you drive a low go-kart to work and weave under the semi-trucks.

Tim Alatorre said...

These are great tips Patrick! You also might want to keep in mind the number of stops. Sometimes a route is longer in distance but has less intersections and is faster to drive than the more direct route with multiple intersections and stop lights/signs!

I have also discovered that putting a spinning blue light on top of your car helps you get through traffic for some reason, I haven't done enough experimentation yet to find out why.

Patrick Chow said...

Imitating a cop! That's exactly what I need Tim. I can even pull people over, what a deal.

Mark Egan said...

Dude, Pdawg, I think you should write a book. I'd buy it.